Monday, April 25, 2011

Sexism must be taught early!

I just got a really annoying e-mail from Fisher-Price.

Let me back up.  The Kid LOVES Imaginext toys.  They're little action figures that range from pirates to knights to Batman.  He saves up his quarters that he earns from cleaning up and taking naps so that he can buy these little guys, and he's got a boat load of them.

It wasn't really a fair fight.  The Imaginext guys didn't stand a chance.

For a while now, The Kid's been saying that he wishes he had a girl action figure to play with all the boys.  I've been searching for a Wonder Woman or Cat Woman or SOMETHING, but to no avail.  I went to the company's website today, and realized that they do not make ANY female figures for this line of toys.  What's that all about??

The new BOYS in town.

Our latest purchase, which included The Flash, Hawkman, and The Green Lantern with his airplane, came with a DC Super Friends DVD to watch, and I was over-joyed when I saw the cover:

Sure, she looks kind of slutty, but Wonder Woman is decidedly female.
We got home and excitedly popped it in, hoping to see a little Wonder Woman action.  We watched.  And watched.  And watched.  No Wonder Woman.  Oh, wait--she was in the credits at the beginning.  After that, every other Super Friend other than Wonder Woman showed up in the cartoon.  The other four or five cartoons on the disc didn't have a single female in them either.  The Kid even caught on, asking, "Why aren't there any GIRLS in this?"

You know, I have NO IDEA why there are no girls!  On our last toy shopping trip, I looked high and low for a female action figure in the "boy" aisle, and all I came across was one measly little Super Girl toy, sold with two male figures, but not packaged on her own.  What kind of crazy, sexist phenomenon is this?!?!?  It doesn't really go both ways, because Barbie has always had Ken, and various versions of him.  Girls have all sorts of Barbie-esque toys, most of which have male figures included in their collections.  I have noticed, however, that it's next-to-impossible to find a blue/boy baby doll, so there's that.

So, this clearly pisses me off.  Is it too much to ask for a female boy's toy?  This is what I was thinking when, earlier today, I sent this e-mail message to Fisher-Price:

Dear Customer Service,

I am writing to you with a suggestion for your Batman line of Imaginext toys:  PLEASE make female action figures!  Where is Batgirl?  And Poison Ivy?  And Cat Woman?  My 3-year old son is dying to buy these toys with his own money, but you don’t make them!  Why not?  He would love to have them to interact with all the other characters.

There seems to be a shortage of female action figures in the boy aisle, in general.  It’s very difficult to find action figures that are not men, or if they are women, that are not overly sexed-up.  Please consider adding a modest female batman character to your line of Imaginext toys.  I’ve spoken to other mothers about this problem, and I’m definitely not alone in my frustration.

Thank you.


Kansas City, KS

Maybe they just don't KNOW that people want these toys, I thought.  Maybe I can convince them to make them!  Maybe we'll be playing with Cat Woman by The Kid's July birthday!

Wrong.  Here's what I got back, just hours after I sent the above message:

Dear Ms. B,

Thank you for writing to share your disappointment with the lack of female figures in the Imaginext. DC Super Friends? sets. 

We appreciate your thoughtful suggestion; however, we do not accept specific ideas or designs submitted by anyone outside of our company. 
All of our products are conceived and designed by an in-house design and development team.  We hope you understand.

Thank you again for writing.  Your comments and insights help us determine if we are meeting the needs and interests of the children we serve. 


Fisher-Price Shop-at-Home Catalog Customer Service Mattel Direct, Inc.
Phone: 1-800-747-8697
Fax: 608-836-0761
Available Monday - Sunday 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Central Time

Thanks a lot, Fisher-Price.  That was really helpful, as far as crushing my hopes and dreams goes.

Listen, I get it:  they don't want to get sued because they started producing something that a customer suggested.  However, I don't want to design the dang thing, I just want to buy it!  I guess I could just pick him up a Polly Pocket or a Barbie, but neither of those toys are the right size to play with all the ones he already has.  

Another problem is that, when you do find a female action figure in the "boy" aisle, she's often dressed incredibly inappropriately.  I read an article on Jezebel last week that addressed this problem beautifully.  Check it out here if you aren't tired of this subject yet.

Maybe I'll just start my own line of superhero toys that are non-gender specific.  This is driving me insane.  If anyone can point me in the direction of an awesome line of action figures with male and female characters, I would be very appreciative. 

ETA:  I know that Playmobil would be a good option, but there are just entirely too many little pieces for a three-year old.  Also, they don't sell licensed characters, at least the ones I've seen.
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